Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Power grab hurts lower-wage workers

Local control is about to be seriously eroded by Republican legislators who would interfere with efforts by Florida's cities and counties to help low-wage workers. The Senate may vote as early as Thursday to prevent local governments from granting private sector workers paid sick leave, which the House already has approved. Local governments ought to be able to help their residents without interference by state lawmakers doing the Florida Chamber of Commerce's bidding.

About 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-income workers do not receive paid sick days. That forces retail clerks, child care workers, restaurant servers and others to come to work sick or lose money. Contrary to the claims of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, businesses benefit from paid sick leave requirements. Increases in worker productivity outweigh the relatively small costs, according to a study of Connecticut's statewide paid sick leave requirements.

In Florida, a fight over the issue is centered in Orange County. After a group collected 50,000 signatures to put an earned sick time measure on the ballot, the county commission used underhanded tactics to prevent it from coming before voters last November. A panel of judges found that the commissioners violated the county charter and ordered the measure to be placed on the ballot in 2014.

Now Republican state lawmakers from the region want to bar that vote entirely. Measures sponsored by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would pre-empt local ordinances across the state that provide workers with certain on-the-job benefits.

Simmons' bill, SB 726, would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave and other family and medical leave benefits. It would also create a statewide task force to study the issue, with members chosen by the Republican leadership of the House and Senate. Don't expect an objective review.

The House-passed HB 655 is even worse than Simmons' bill. It outlaws all local requirements that say employers must provide certain employment benefits and eliminates living wage standards that local governments set with their own vendors.

Counties and cities no longer could require employees of contractors be paid above the state or federal minimum wage. This would pre-empt laws in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and in cities such as Orlando, Miami Beach and Gainesville.

Precourt wants Tallahassee to trash a Miami-Dade County program that has run successfully for 14 years, providing lower-wage workers a better life so they are less reliant on public services and charity.

It's a familiar story. Special interests that lose at the local level go to Tallahassee and pressure a compliant Legislature to see things their way. These two bills would prevent local governments and voters from embracing reasonable job benefits such as paid sick leave. Senators who support local control and a productive work force should reject this power play.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18